Currently, the state is in the 1A+ phase, which makes the vaccine available to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, people 65 years and older along with their caregivers, and law enforcement. This phase doesn't include teachers or other educators.
Teachers are currently slated to be offered vaccine doses during the next phase known as 1B. When that phase will begin hasn't yet been announced.
"In response to your resolution: I agree," Kemp wrote in a letter addressed to the Atlanta Board of Education. "If the state were receiving adequate supply of the COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Toomey and I would quickly move to expand the vaccination criteria."
He posted a copy of the letter on social media.
"The truth is that our current vaccine supply is not enough to expand the 1A+ vaccination criteria," the letter reads.
Currently, Georgia receives a vaccine allotment of 146,000 doses per week.
In his letter, Kemp mentioned the 1A+ vaccination group covers 2 million Georgians, including more than 1.3 million seniors. To date, more than 1 million Georgians have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
"To prioritize vaccination of teachers and school staff under the age of 65 would mean adding an additional 450,000 Georgians to the rolls of those currently eligible," Kemp wrote. "Currently many public health districts in the metro-Atlanta area have already had to pause additional first-dose appointments - not because of a lack of demand, but due to a severe lack of vaccine supplied to our state from the federal government."
In January, metro school district superintendents sent Kemp a letter making the same request.
"As superintendents, we hear each day from families who implore us to not return to a full virtual model; likewise, we hear each day from teachers who are scared about the threat of COVID-19 to them and their loved ones," the letter from 11 superintendents read. "The longer we delay in vaccinating our teachers and school staff, the more we risk having to close our doors once again."
"As the Governor and Dr. Toomey have said multiple times: Georgia is not currently receiving enough vaccine supply to provide priority vaccination to over 400,000 teachers and school staff," said a statement from Kemp's team in response to the January.
In his letter responding to the Atlanta Board of Education this week, Kemp stated, "As Dr. Toomey and I have said on multiple occasions: as soon as we can expand the current vaccination criteria to include educators and school staff, we absolutely will. I believe we should do so because these hardworking Georgians are undoubtedly essential to the health, well-being, and future prosperity of our state."